Horse racing, Santa Anita

Joe Talamo looking for Santa Anita riding title

Jockey Joe Talamo has been there before … like last year.

He affable Cajun was four wins up on the Hollywood Park riding colony with one week to go and during the last week he fell flat on his face, finishing third in the standings.

This year, at the same time of the year but a different location (Arcadia), Talamo is 10 wins up on Tyler Baze heading into the final eight days of action at the inaugural Santa Anita spring/summer meet and Talamo appears to be gaining momentum.

He won two Grade I races last Saturday and leads the way the last two weeks with seven victories from 46 mounts.

Tiago Pereira (19 mounts), Martin Garcia (31) and Edwin Maldonado (33) have six wins over the same period while Baze (32), apprentice Drayden Van Dyke (34) and Fernando Perez (34) have five victories.

Kent Desormeaux has been slumping, going 2-for-27 while newcomer Elvis Trujillo is making a big move with 12 wins from 65 mounts at the meet which places him tied for ninth in the standings despite getting a late start after moving his tack from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

As predicted by himself, trainer Doug O’Neill’s barn has gone into a slump with just two wins from its last 22 starts, but O’Neill still is on top of the standings.

Peter Miller continues his roller-coaster last three months and has hit another hot streak with six wins from 25 starters the last two weeks.

Jerry Hollendorfer is three for his last 18 while Bill Spawr is three for his last five.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 2 (Noise of the Crowd $8.80, seventh race; War Academy $3.40, eighth)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 2 (Grey Girl Gone $23.80, first; Guinevere’s Finale $33.80, second)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 1 (J Louie $5.20, fifth)

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Got Even $20.20, fourth)

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Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Watch out! It’s Miller time at Santa Anita

Trainer Peter Miller started off the year hot at Santa Anita, but went into a horrendous slump in March.

Now, all is right with the world.

Miller, who is the darling of HRTV on replays of the races as he roots his horses home, went a sparkling 6-for-13 last week in Arcadia.

Maybe Miller’s slump was a combination of his horses running through their conditions and adjusting to life at San Luis Rey Downs, again.

Years ago, Miller trained out of the Bonsall training center, but then as he got more horses he stayed on track, training a lot at Hollywood Park. Since the Inglewood track closed in January for good, Miller is once again training out of the Northern San Diego County center and his horses are responding.

His horses are also out of the limelight and away from clockers so Miller’s horses have been getting some nice prices.

Miller looks like he has a couple good shots again on Friday and the 2-year-olds are just getting in the starting gate. Look for an all out assault at Del Mar.

Miller had the most training wins last week and moved into second in the spring/summer Santa Anita standings.

Leader Doug O’Neill went 2-for-10 and third place Jerry Hollendorfer was also 2-for-10. Bob Baffert is slumping and went 0-for-7.

With Rafael Bejarano out, Joe Talamo is atop the jockey standings and he went 6-for-27 on the week. Tyler Baze (33 starts) and apprentice Drayden Van Dyke (26 mounts) had five wins each. Kent Desormeaux is making in-roads as he was 4-for-14 and import Elvis Trujillo is showing he is one to watch.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Monday’s top choice winners: 3 (Lost Bus $7.40, first race; Cyclometer $4, second; Stormin Lute $6.40, sixth)

Monday’s second choice winners: 1 (Candy’s Sunrise $10, third)

Monday’s third choice winners: 1 (Says Who $10, eighth)

Monday’s long shot winners: 1 (Miss Serendipity $29.80, seventh)

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Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Allred: Hollywood Park not involved with Los Alamitos

Los Alamitos Race Course owner Ed Allred said in an email Tuesday afternoon that Hollywood Park isn’t involved in any way, shape or form with the Orange County track and its agreement to take over thoroughbred racing dates from Fairplex Park in Pomona.

“Hollywood Park is in no way involved directly or indirectly in any dates that will be run at Los Alamitos,” said Allred. “My good friends, Richard Shapiro and Jack Liebau (former Hollywood Park president) are included in our 9 member board of directors. I repeat Hollywood Park will have absolutely no involvement in any sense of the word in Thoroughbred racing at Los Alamitos Race Course.”

Word in the industry was that Hollywood Park was involved in the movement of dates to Los Al in order to keep its company associated with the sport so that it wouldn’t have to pay out pensions right now to employees who were left without jobs when the track held its final thoroughbred meet last December.

The California Horse Racing Board isn’t expected to vote on the change of September dates until its May meeting.

If approved, thoroughbreds will run at Los Alamitos for two weeks before Del Mar’s summer meet and 11 dates after Del Mar, and right before Santa Anita’s autumn meet. Thoroughbred racing at Los Alamitos will be run on an extended one-mile dirt track. Los Alamitos doesn’t have a turf course giving trainers a built in break for grass horses.

Los Alamitos will run thoroughbreds during the day and its highly successful quarterhorse meet at night.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Hollywood Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita break wasn’t thought through

If case you didn’t realize it, Santa Anita won’t race again until Saturday and Sunday.

On top of that, it won’t race next week until Friday.

Say what?

As one Santa Anita executive explained to me, the track was concerned about its horse inventory since it took over most of Hollywood Park’s dates after the demise of the Inglewood track. Perfectly understandable. Santa Anita began asking Northern California horsemen to send entries south to Arcadia a couple of months ago if they thought they would be competitive and it has shown in the entries.

Here’s my problem with Santa Anita’s current hiatus: the winter/spring meet will end THIS Sunday with mandatory payouts in wagers like the Pick Six and the “new” spring/summer meet will begin on April 25.

If Santa Anita was truly concerned about filling races at this time of the year, and in the next two months, it would have ended the traditional meet LAST Sunday and given the sport an 11-day break.

Yes, I know the sport is year-round, but an extended break would have allowed for some mini-vacations for some backstretch workers and given the horses some needed days off. It also would have allowed gamblers to build up bankrolls.

It also would have given the Santa Anita turf course a break. It would have given it time for some rejuvenation and maybe a little extra water.

But God forbid, we take a weekend off when we could be making some money, sport be damned.

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Friday, April 4

FIRST RACE: 1. Thisonesforricky, 2. Tiz the Key, 3. Iconic Spirit. LONG SHOT: Sheza Sish.

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SECOND RACE: 1. First Strike, 2. Dress Code, 3. Chicsdigtheshark. LONG SHOT: Los Bambinos.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Mosso, 2. Southern Digs, 3. Surfer Moon. LONG SHOT: Bart the Barrister.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Water Issues, 2. Lakota Road, 3. Backintheacademy. LONG SHOT: Djimmah.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Fit to Rule, 2. Big Wags, 3. Mensa Heat. LONG SHOT: Anabaa Premium.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Rhagori, 2. Theatre Star, 3. Lady Asano. LONG SHOT: Include the Aussie.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Tres Belle (best bet), 2. Seattle Charlie, 3. My Sweet Addiction. LONG SHOT: Sweet Factory.

This 4-year-old filly TRES BELLE, trained by Bob Baffert, won her career debut on the Santa Anita dirt a year ago and then ran on the Hollywood Park synthetic and Del Mar grass without much success. She returns to the dirt in her first race in 7 months and looks ready to run following a string of strong works.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Golden Chalice (grass only), 2. Stake Hunter, 3. Smart Journey. LONG SHOT: The Custodian.

Trainer Carla Gaines has won with 2-for-3 first-time starters on the grass at the meet and she’s looking to increase that here with GOLDEN CHALICE. Gaines is 32% first-time turf from 22 starters. This son of Lucky Pulpit has a couple of good works in preparation for this race down the hill with jockey Victor Espinoza.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Thursday’s top choice winners: 3 (Our Pure Creation $9, third race; Mavericks Gun $7, fourth; Ginger Tap $9, seventh)

Thursday’s second choice winners: 3 (Clearly Confused $6.20, second; Rossi Reserve $14, sixth; Shakeitupbetty $4, eighth)

Thursdays third choice and long shot winners: 0

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

The grass is always greener

The Santa Anita turf course is considered one of the best in the business. Now, we’ll see what happens later this spring when the meet extends into May and June with the extinction of Hollywood Park.

So far this meet, the rain has been confined to one week. Unfortunately, rain is in the forecast for this week so this probably isn’t the best time to talk about the best turf riders and trainers, but such is life.

When handicapping I always give horses ridden by Joe Talamo (16-for-121), Corey Nakatani (16-99), Gary Stevens (11-49) and Mike Smith (12-71) extra credit. I guess I need to start looking at more Rafael Bejarano, even if he is the track’s leading rider already. Bejarano has won 31-of-130 turf starts, according to Equibase stats. The price might be great, but winners are winners.

On the flip side. jockeys to stay away from on the grass are Martin Garcia (1-54), Alonso Quinonez (1-26), Fernando Perez (1-22), Aaron Gryder (0-20) and Orlando Mojica (0-19). Garcia’s stats surprise me a little bit, but he does ride No. 1 for the Bob Baffert barn, which is 1-for-12 on the grass this meet.

The top turf trainer is Tom Proctor (14-47), especially with all those Glen Hill Farm horses he has and Stevens rides most of those.

The trainer that surprised me was Marty Jones, who has won 10 of 26 grass starts. He’s followed by Jerry Hollendorfer (9-43), John Sadler (8-59) and Doug O’Neill (8-87). O’Neill has usually been a throw out for me on turf at Del Mar, but he’s starting to get a lot of horses from Europe lately.

Surprisingly, trainer Barry Abrams is a horrible 1-for-26 on the grass this year despite most of his horses being by the sire Unusual Heat, who has excelled on the surface in the past. Others to ignore are Richard Baltas (1-17), Eoin Harty (1-16), Jack Carava (1-17) and Jorge Gutierrez (1-18).

As for last week, Baltas had three wins in one day while at least four other trainers (Jones, Hollendorfer, O’Neill and Ron Ellis) had two wins. Peter Miller continued his cold spell with an 0-for-8 week and Baffert’s barn was 0-for-3.

On the jockeys’ side, Bejarano had three wins from just nine mounts as he had to sit out a suspension. He was joined with three wins by Talamo (3-24), Tyler Baze (3-22), Smith (3-8) and apprentice Drayden Van Dyke (3-16). Nakatani was just 1-for-13 while Victor Espinoza was 1-for-10.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 2 (Musical Arts $7.40, seventh race; Hobbits Hero $31.80, eighth)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 3 (Halo Dolly $7.60, third; Tizmetizyou $18, fourth; Fast Moka Too $3.40, ninth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 0

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Arkenstone $35.80, first)

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Friday, March 21

FIRST RACE: 1. Tanquerray, 2. Mangita, 3. Magic Spot. LONG SHOT: Chilada.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Clearly Confused, 2. Addendum, 3. Sugar Spice. LONG SHOT: Vindicted Ruler.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Oughttobenaughty (best bet), 2. Provenance, 3. Autumn View. LONG SHOT: Epistemology.

This 4-year-old filly OUGHTTOBENAUGHTY got rained off the turf in her second start and still ran well at Hollywood Park. Trainer Scott Hansen is 3-for-9 with turf starters and he does well off the layoff (1-for-2). Underrated journeyman jockey Iggy Puglisi is 7-for-23 at the meet, including two wins on Thursday.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Full’s Dress Code, 2. Hearitforthegirls, 3. Writer Fever. LONG SHOT: E Equalsmcsquared.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Bettys Bambino, 2. Jet Warrior, 3. Back to Bako. LONG SHOT: Luz Atticus.

BETTYS BAMBINO, a 4-year-old gelding, was also rained off his turf debut and went on to a stunning 9½-length win on a wet/fast track for trainer Peter Eurton, who never has them cranked up first time. This son of Unusual Heat was bred to run on the turf and he gets his shot here down the hill.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Road Ready, 2. Xuang Feng, 3. Private Bounty. LONG SHOT: Di Conti.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Perfect Set, 2. Mambo Man, 3. Boyett. LONG SHOT: Lime Rickey.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Charbroiled, 2. Ice Cream Truck, 3. Jimrony. LONG SHOT: Destino.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Thursday’s top choice winners: 2 (Silk n Silver $3.80, first race; Our Glitter Ball $20.40, fourth)

Thursday’s second choice winners: 1 (Rangi $6.80, seventh)

Thursday’s third choice winners: 2 (Visions of Candy $12.80. second; An Unusual Group $16.40, fifth)

Thursday’s long shot winners: 0

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